In one hallway in the NovaCare Complex there are giant Fathead-like images of every Eagles Pro Bowler and the years they made the team.
It only counts the Pro Bowls as Eagles, so, for instance, a guy like Haloti Ngata didn’t retroactively get put on the wall when he signed here. But there are, by my count, 10 current Eagles on the wall: Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Nick Foles, Malcolm Jenkins, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Carson Wentz.
There are no new entries for the wall this year as Cox, Brooks, Ertz, Jenkins and Kelce had all made a Pro Bowl before.
A few times a year, I’ll find myself in that hallway and ask a fellow media member, “Who is the next guy on the wall?” It’s something I like doing and it probably annoys my fellow reporters, which makes me like doing it more.
Anyway, in honor of this year’s Pro Bowl on Sunday, here are my top five guesses for the next Eagle to make his first Pro Bowl and get added to the wall:
His last Pro Bowl appearance was in 2013 when he was still with the Bears, but Jeffery clearly has the talent of a Pro Bowler, although his numbers in his first two seasons with the Eagles have been modest. In the two years, he’s averaged 61 catches, 816 yards and 7.5 touchdowns per season. Another year like that and he won’t be a Pro Bowler. But he played through a torn rotator cuff in 2017 and then missed three games to start 2018 because of it. If he can stay healthy and play a full season with a healthy Carson Wentz, there’s a good chance he could take a spot in the annual All-Star showcase.
I actually think Bennett should be a Pro Bowler this year. Olivier Vernon replaced Khalil Mack in the game and the case was really much stronger for Bennett. Vernon played just 11 games in 2018. Meanwhile, Bennett had nine sacks and was the best defensive end on a playoff team. Oh well. This year will snap Bennett’s streak of Pro Bowls after he made the last three in Seattle. If he’s back in 2019, he should start the whole season and could get to double-digit sacks for the second time in his career.
After a slow start in 2018, we saw Bradham really pick it up toward the end of the season, even with that broken hand. Even if the Eagles get Jordan Hicks to come back, Bradham has to be the top linebacker, which means he doesn’t leave the field. Once that happened last year, he really started to play well. It’s tough to make this team as a linebacker though. This year’s are Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner and then Leighton Vader Esch subbed in for Kuechly. Tough competition. But if Bradham can be consistently good for a full season, he might get some recognition.
Yeah, I’m giving you the punter. Because in his first NFL season, Johnston had a gross average of 48.1 (third in the NFL) and a net average of 42.7 (fourth in the NFL) and both were single-season franchise records. The problem is that the guy clearly in Johnston’s way in Seattle punter (and fellow Australian) Michael Dickson, who was drafted in the fifth round, put up even better numbers in his rookie season. But Johnston is good and young and I’d bet on him being good for a while.
He has just 7 1/2 sacks through the first two years of his career, but he was at least a starter in Year 2 and we’ve seen flashes of why the Eagles made him the No. 14 pick a couple years ago. His second season was off to a promising start before he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 4. His stat line says he had 2 1/2 sacks in six games, but he was healthy for four of them, so I think he was on pace for a nearly double-digit sack season. Granted, there’s some more projection in this one, but Barnett still has two more years left on his rookie contract (plus a fifth-year option) and is still just 22 years old. He has a shot.
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